Basketball

Take stock of stocking feet

Here and there at the NBA draft combine:

It's always a big moment at this thing when the league distributes the measurements and weights of draft prospects. Must be like lockup, when the prisoners get to buy smokes once a week – a break from the monotony.

I certainly understand why this matters. You want one consistent standard in a sport in which height affects performance.

But it's always funny when some Web site makes it a revelation that So-and-So is only 5-111/2 in stocking feet.

As a friend who scouts for a Western Conference team once quipped: “I've never seen a basketball game where the players didn't wear sneakers.''

Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin, the presumptive No.1 pick, would appreciate that humor. Someone asked him Friday if he was concerned about measuring out at 6-81/2 without sneakers.

Griffin's deadpan reply was precious: Being a quarter-inch shorter than he anticipated wouldn't dissuade him from trying to score in the post.

My all-time height story was the year the Charlotte Hornets drafted Larry Johnson No.1 and some poor intern listed the player's legitimate height in the news release – 6-5 and change. The media-relations staff, realizing this was not good, scurried around trying to retrieve the photocopies. We all but taunted those poor flacks for inadvertently being so honest.

We also knew that Johnson's height was irrelevant; until he destroyed his back, LJ was the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the NBA.

That's why I think Tyler Hansbrough will be just fine. He measured out at a respectable 6-81/4 – a whole quarter-inch shorter than Griffin – and was a quarter-inch longer in the more important wingspan category. (Last I checked, you can't rebound with a long neck).

All this stuff takes on a false impact, the same way a great time in the 40-yard dash takes on faux importance in the NFL draft. But in the end, it's about productivity, and Hansbrough will find a way to be productive.

Arizona forward Chase Budinger is a hoot, channeling Spicoli of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” fame.

I asked about the Bobcats and he told me that they asked bizarre questions. (Example: If you were sent to a deserted island, what's the one thing you'd bring?)

I found Budinger entertaining, spontaneous and a little flaky – particularly so when I heard that he told a Sacramento writer about his job interview with the Kings, only to be later corrected that the Kings didn't actually interview him.

That's a forgivable mistake – Budinger had interactions with 10 NBA teams in Chicago – but it's funny that he lost track of who works for which franchise.

There's a vibe here that Wake Forest forward James Johnson is slipping in this draft.

I'm surprised by that. I saw Johnson play over the winter, and I like his game: He's explosive, he has a wide skill set and he could play either forward spot in a pinch.

The only negative I hear is that he hasn't come across well in the job interviews. There's a sense – fairly or not – that he isn't serious enough about joining the working world.

He needs to correct this impression because he doesn't have the option of returning to Wake (having signed with an agent). If he slips, he'll be a bargain in the 20s, as another Deacon, Josh Howard, was at the end of the first round with Dallas.

OK, you're waiting for me to get back to that height stuff:

Wake's Jeff Teague is an inch taller than North Carolina's Ty Lawson.

Syracuse's Jonny Flynn is the same height as Lawson.

Davidson's Stephen Curry is 6-2 in socks and 6-31/4 in kicks.

Two years from now, you won't spend 30 seconds caring about that.

Remember some shrimp named Chris Paul? He kicks almost everybody's butt.

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